Published November 22, 2009
Lawyers in Mahoninig County are unanimous in their support of consolidating the court system in Mahoning County below the Common Pleas level. But, will that be enough to enable county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, a lawyer, to get done what former party chairman, the late Don L. Hanni Jr., could not?
Considering that Hanni, one the leading criminal defense lawyers in the region, began discussing court consolidation more than two decades ago, the chances of such a change occurring any time soon are slim. There are too many people, especially judges, who are determined to maintain their financially lucrative jobs.
It doesn't matter how often the spotlight is trained on the four part-time county court judges who earn about $60,000 a year and receive full benefits, Or, how often the duplication in the system is highlighted. The bottom line is that the special interests — include politicians who control the pursestrings — will not let change occur.
Betras is right in arguing that the current system is archiac, inefficient and a waste of money. But as he will soon find out, the advocates of the status quo have a lot of power.
Perhaps it will take all the lawyers in Mahoning County standing up and publicly criticizing the courts for the taxpayers to understand just how much of their money is being flushed down the criminal justice system.